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What would Germany do if Russia cuts off the gas supply?

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
What would Germany do if Russia cuts off the gas supply?
German Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) and French Business Minister Bruno Le Maire meet in Berlin to discuss European energy policy on March 31st, 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Bernd von Jutrczenka

Germany and France are preparing for a cut in Russian gas deliveries, France's economy minister said Thursday, as Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Moscow will turn off the taps for those who refuse to pay in rubles.

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“On the sanctions against Russia, we will not accept the payment of gas in any other currency than stated in the contract,” said Bruno Le Maire following talks in Berlin with his German counterpart Robert Habeck.

"There could be a situation tomorrow in which ... there is no longer any Russian gas. It's up to us to prepare for these scenarios and we are preparing," he said.

Separately, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday that Western countries would continue paying for Russian gas in euros or dollars despite the Kremlin's threat to cut off supplies not paid for in rubles.

"We looked at the contracts for the gas deliveries," Scholz told reporters in Berlin.

"They say that payments are made in euros, sometimes in dollars... and I made clear in my conversation with the Russian president that that will remain the case," referring to a telephone call with Putin on Wednesday.

It came as Putin signed a decree that said buyers "must open ruble accounts in Russian banks" from Friday.

"Nobody sells us anything for free, and we are not going to do charity either - that is, existing contracts will be stopped," he said.

The order signed by Putin means foreign buyers of Russian gas will have to open an account at Gazprom bank and transfer euros or US dollars into it, reported the BBC.

The bank will then use the currency to buy rubles which will then be used to make the payment for gas.

'Emergency gas plan'

On Wednesday, Economy and Climate Minister Habeck said that Germany had triggered the first “early warning” alert level under its emergency gas plan. 

He said it was a precautionary measure to prepare for any supply restrictions.

READ ALSO: Germany activates emergency gas plan to secure supply

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However, the government also urged households and businesses to cut back on gas as much as possible. 

Habeck said that if deliveries from Russia stopped there would be “serious” consequences although supplies would continue to flow. 

“We are in a situation where every kilowatt-hour saved helps,” Habeck said on Wednesday, urging consumers to limit gas usage.

“You’re helping Germany, you’re helping Ukraine when you reduce your use of gas, or energy in general.”

READ ALSO: Why Germany has urged households and businesses to cut back on gas

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What happens if Russia stops energy supplies?

Germany's Economy Affairs and Climate Action Ministry says that for the coming weeks and summer, thanks to the precautionary measures already taken, Germany could function without gas from Russia.

But in order to guarantee supplies in the coming winter, more measures will have to be taken. 

“The more that is consumed in spring and summer, the more difficult the situation will be in winter,” said the ministry.

“Conversely, the more energy we save now, the better we will get through the winter.”

The ministry said once again: “Therefore, every gas consumer is required to save as much energy as possible.”

Since the outbreak of the war, Germany has been trying to diversify its supplies and accelerating investments in renewable energy to get away from its heavy reliance on Russian gas. 

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